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BIGI v GGGR

The logo of Gender Equality Info – the site of Gijsbert Stoet

New year’s resolution: no more over-long posts

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For once I have some good news. You may recall the Global Gender Gap Report (GGGR). I did a post on the 2014 edition over 4 years ago, here. The best I can say for the GGGR is that it brought home to me just how badly we were being misled. It is produced by the World Economic Forum. Who they? Think globalisation. Think Davos. They produce this 355 page document which is like an old fashioned telephone directory, stuffed full of numbers. And meaningless. The 2018 version is here

I’ll leave you to ponder the link between globalism and feminism – but here it is made manifest.

You could read my earlier post for just how preposterous is the GGGR, but the main thing is this: they define a ratio which is less than one if women are disadvantaged compared to men, and greater than one if men are disadvantaged compared to women.

Except that they don’t. They truncate the ratio at 1. Relative disadvantage of men is redefined as equality. Seriously, I’m not making this up. Here’s the relevant quote,

“To capture gender equality, two possible scales were considered. One was a negative-positive scale capturing the size and direction of the gender gap. This scale penalizes either men’s advantage over women or women’s advantage over men and gives the highest points to absolute equality. The second choice was a one-sided scale that measures how close women are to reaching parity with men but does not reward or penalize countries for having a gender gap in the other direction. We find the one-sided scale more appropriate for our purposes, as it does not reward countries for having exceeded the parity benchmark.”

Wrap your head around that. Not only are they deliberately hiding male disadvantage, but in their topsy-turvy minds they think of it as “exceeding the parity benchmark” and that an indication of male disadvantage might be something deserving a reward. 

I’m not going to give you chapter and verse on how the GGGR measures the gender gap, but here are some of the key elements which contribute,

  • Participation rates in employment;
  • Gender pay gap;
  • An advancement gap which is said to be “captured through two hard data statistics (the ratio of women to men among legislators, senior officials and managers, and the ratio of women to men among technical and professional workers)“;
  • A measure of political empowerment which “measures the gap between men and women at the highest level of political decision-making through the ratio of women to men in ministerial positions and the ratio of women to men in parliamentary positions“.

Do those reflect the interests of any particular lobby, at all? The last bullet, in particular, affects only a vanishingly small proportion of people, of either sex in any country. So as a measure of a gender gap applicable to the general population it is utterly absurd. The GGGR measures the feminism gap, not a gender gap. 

In all those countries where boys do substantially less well in education than girls, the education gender attainment ratio gets truncated at 1, vanishing away this major disadvantage to boys.

An even more outrageous trick is used for longevity. In every country in the world, men’s life expectancy is shorter than women’s. Yet the corresponding ratio is listed as less than 1, indicating female disadvantage. How is that trick accomplished? No problem, they did this…

“the healthy life expectancy benchmark is set to be 1.06”

Yes, they simply redefined inequality of men as equality again. If women have on average a 6% longer life expectancy than men, this is regarded as equality in the “Survival” category. So if women have an average life only 5% greater than men’s, this is recorded as a disadvantage to women.

The only impressive thing about the GGGR is that they have the bare faced nerve to promulgate this garbage. But why not? For years every partisan charity, journalist, parliamentarian and government agency has been quoting the GGGR as if it were holy writ. They should be ashamed.

Well, they may have a harder ride next time…

Which brings me to the good news. Academic psychologists Gijsbert Stoet (University of Essex) and David C. Geary (University of Missouri) have produced a more sane version of a global gender gap. They are to be congratulated for having the gumption to do so. They call it the Basic Index of Gender Inequality (BIGI). Their paper is here and an associated web site is here.

Let me emphasise immediately that I do not prefer Stoet & Geary’s gender gap formulation because “it gives the right answer”. There is no right answer. The gender gap as a concept is daft. One cannot compare apples and oranges.

But Stoet & Geary’s BIGI at least avoids the blatant feminist bias of the GGGR. And its real value is that it exposes the GGGR for the arbitrary nonsense that it truly is. I must emphasise at this point that all this is my opinion, not that of Stoet & Geary. They are far more diplomatic. They write,

BIGI aims to provide a simplified and unbiased measure by focusing on key indicators that are relevant to all men and women in any society. BIGI focuses on key ingredients of a good life.

  1. Healthy Life Expectancy (years expected to live in good health)
  2. Basic education (literacy, and years of primary, and secondary education)
  3. Life satisfaction

By “unbiased” they mean not slanted towards feminist obsessions (though they are far too gentlemanly to express it thus), and by “relevant to all men and women” they mean avoiding measures skewed to the top 0.1% of society. One can’t argue with the sense of that.

However…I repeat, there is no such thing as a gender gap really. Even considering just one element, say education, how many different measures could one dream up? Dozens. How about the gender ratio of achieving A Levels? No, I don’t claim that is better than what Stoet & Geary actually use, it probably is not. I merely illustrate that there is no unique measure even of the single elements – and different measures can be numerically very different indeed. And as for “life satisfaction”, how in God’s name could that ever truly be quantified?

But worse, there can never be any comparability between the different elements, say between education and health. How many years life is worth a few percent more boys managing to get through secondary school? So the weighting of the different elements is impossible to decided and ultimately meaningless.

But that is not to detract from what Stoet & Geary have done. They have performed a most valuable service and are to be congratulated for having done so. The value of their work is that it explodes the GGGR (though I’m sure that is not their opinion).

The difference in the outcomes of GGGR and BIGI could hardly be more stark. All countries disadvantage women and girls according to the GGGR, because that is ensured by their measure: countries only differ in their degree of female oppression. But Stoet & Geary’s BIGI measure produces the following, rather different, result from an analysis of 134 countries,

In 91 (68%) of the 134 countries, men were on average more disadvantaged than women, and in the other 43 (32%) countries, women were more disadvantaged than men. The international median of the BIGI is -0.017 (SD = 0.062), that is, nearly a two percent deviation from parity, favoring women.

Great Britain was one of the countries where men were more disadvantaged based on the BIGI measure. In fact virtually all Western/Anglophone countries had a negative BIGI (men disadvantaged). The exception was Italy (which was marginal).

I’m guessing that regular readers of this blog have not fallen off their chairs in amazement.

Certain other lobbies will react rather differently. But now, when they roll out the preposterous GGGR gender gap as “proof” of their assertions, they’ll not be having such an easy ride. Now there is an alternative.